Ball explodes in ITM Cup match!

Listen to Karmichael Hunt Mic'd up!

All Blacks fined for waterboy Messam

World XV convincingly beat Japan

Andrew Trimble big hit leads to try

Sensational Stepper Nehe Milner-Skudder

Josh Kronfeld & Highlanders celebrate!

Richie McCaw reveals breakdown secrets

Jerry Collins appearance for club 2nd XV

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Chris Ashton carded for high swinging arm on Maurie Fa'asavalu

Saracens winger Chris Ashton was yellow carded for a dangerous high tackle he made on Harlequins forward Maurie Fa'asavalu in the Aviva Premiership last weekend. A suspension looked likely, but he has been cleared and faces no further punishment.

On his Premiership return following a disappointing Six Nations with England, Ashton stuck out a swinging arm as Quins upped the tempo after a Mike Brown break.

His hand seemed to connect with big Fa'asavalu and floored him. Ashton's remorse was clear to see but referee Greg Garner refereed to the TMO, who then recommended a sin-binning.

It was Ashton's fifth yellow card of the season and after a careful video review from RFU citing officer Bruce Reece-Russel, it was concluded that the appropriate action was taken by the officials.

"He mistimed the challenge, there was no intent to cause any harm it was just one of those things," said Saracens Director of Rugby, Mark McCall. "He's been brilliant all week for a guy who's taken some criticism over the last few weeks so it is disappointing."

Ashton turns 26 tomorrow so will no doubt be pleased to be free to play against Wasps on Saturday.

You can view a highlights wrap of the Saracens vs Harlequins game here

Posted by Rugbydump at 8:10 pm | View Comments (64)

Posted in Big Hits & Dirty Play

Viewing 64 comments

Guest March 28, 2013 11:31 pm

Ashton is becoming a liability at the moment, he needs to get his head down and get back to the player that he was when he burst onto the scene a few years ago. Could have been a couple of weeks ban. It is a poor tackle and might have deserved a red, the defense from the management is the most annoying thing about the whole incident.

· Reply · Report

browner March 29, 2013 12:52 am

Q? ...... why has he become so ineffective at International level?

a] slower
b] unfit
c] worse technically
d] had the 'unpredictability' & spontanaity been coached out of him......?

Do we ever see him leaving his wing & being on the shoulder of all persons making a break anymore....nah.... wonder why?

· Reply · Report

DanKnapp March 29, 2013 12:57 am

His tackling hasn't been great, but I think he's been on the shoulder of a few people this season for England. The main issue is that there just aren't the breaks happening all that much!

However I do think he should be dropped, to make way for a speedster like Wade, who might re-energise our attack.

· Reply · Report

Kevin May 29, 2013 12:09 am

but also a "top class international" winger should be able to create breaks on his own. Ashton relies on others to make an initial surge and then he supports and finishes it off.
Therefore it is very unsurprising that he hit a slump in form. His form is reliant on others and luck. All he has is electric pace and good support lines. he lacks in every other department and is really getting weaker at defense.

· Reply · Report

matt March 29, 2013 12:34 pm

Do we ever see anyone making a break anymore? I think Dewi Morris or Will Greenwood got it right, they said that Ashton's game suited Flood's looser more spontaneous style, it allowed him to poach, where as Farrell's very pre planned and kicking based game doesn't give him anything to do.
He feeds off of other players, he doesn't make opportunities like Shane Williams and Jason Robinson, but rather capitalises on others' breaks, but no one is making them at the moment.

· · Reply · Report

TechnoMouse March 29, 2013 2:01 pm

Yeah that's pretty much it. He can't make something for himself, but is the king of poaching from other players' breaks. Farrell doesn't have the running game that is likely to suit Ashton. Burns, on the other hand, if he gets a shout this autumn in Argentina could be the key. But on present form I'd rather see a Jonny May on the wing than Ashton.

· · Reply · Report

dave March 30, 2013 12:44 am

I disagree with everything you said besides the ineffective at international level and worse technically
you need to know what you're talking about before you say stuff

· · Reply · Report

sam00skelo March 28, 2013 11:32 pm

Should have been a red. He's an absolute disgrace of a player.

· Reply · Report

sam00skelo March 28, 2013 11:33 pm

Should have been a red. He's an absolute disgrace of a player.

· Reply · Report

HT March 28, 2013 11:35 pm

Hmmm should have been a red...if that was by a pacific islander it definitely would have been red....

· Reply · Report

Steve March 28, 2013 11:36 pm

Almost like Ashton got into position to make a good tackle, then changed his mind and stood up and went in for that clumsy, stupid effort. Deserved the yellow. A player of his caliber shouldn't be doing that. Instinctively he went for the right option, but something in his mind rejected common sense at the last minute...

· Reply · Report

dave March 30, 2013 12:46 am

there's more to it than that, it appears he lined the player stomach chest area up and then the player crouched as ashton went in for the tackle and he caught him on the neck, that shit happens when you play rugby but there's no sympathy at that level

· Reply · Report

Flying Dutchman March 28, 2013 11:39 pm

I don't know much about his record but objectively, yellow is the right decision. Not malicious

· Reply · Report

siantuan March 28, 2013 11:39 pm

I don't get why anyone would try and cover for him. If you look at the facts, the intention becomes clear. He CANNOT tackle to save his life - he's made that abundantly clear throughout his career. He knew Fa'asavalu was going to run over him so he took the cowards way out. He's a thug and a dirty player, plain and simple

· Reply · Report

matt March 29, 2013 12:22 am

He wasn't going to run over him, he wasn't even Ashton's man, Ashton has gone out of his way to try, emphasis on try, and make a tackle, so he's making an effort in defence, isn't that what we want from him?
The reason I personally defend him is that he has a great record as an attacking weapon, his defence is admittedly poor, but what's the alternative? Put another Mike Brown on the wing? Because his defence in the last two 6N games was far from exemplary, and he's up to about 18 caps now without a try, show me any other winger in the world with a record like that? Leave Ashton alone for now.
England need as many attacking threats as we can fit into a backline at the moment, we can't rely on Manu to do everything on the front foot, and if that means having a winger or two that you aren't fully confident in going backwards then so be it.

· Reply · Report

browner March 29, 2013 12:54 am

Has Varndell shagged Rob Andrews mum? what else does he have to do ..... proper winger... Brown was found lacking !

· · Reply · Report

thenunnchucks March 29, 2013 3:04 am

Varndell is an even worse defender than Ashton. Though I agree Ashton needs to knuckle down and rediscover his form and rid himself of all this petulant stuff from the last few months, I'd have him over Varndell any day.

If you look at any of Wasps games from last 2 seasons, Varndell actively shirks tackles and is only a decent finisher when he's in an out and out sprint with the defender. Ashton a much better finisher

· Reply · Report

johndoe March 29, 2013 4:03 am

There are still plenty of better options than Ashton. People generally seem to notice the tries he causes by missing tackles, but he causes so many more by being out of position on the wing. Now, he can't score either. So what's the point on having him? His overall contribution to the team effort is negative. For all the good Stuart Lancaster has done, picking repeatedly Ashton is a bad mistake and it goes against his policy of picking on form. Ashton has been off form for a long time, and even then, he was a massive defensive liability. Lancaster needs to pick someone else for now. Ashton always had the attack (and the potential to improve) but if he can get his defence up to a good standard and get his attack back, he could fit in very well to the current English set up. His tracking, strike bursts through the middle could be exactly what this overcoached, rigid, English team need. For now though, pick another winger.

· Reply · Report

matt March 29, 2013 12:36 pm

Can you name another winger in England that should replace him? The only ones I can think of are Wade and Sharples, neither of which are much better defensively.

· Reply · Report

ajb March 29, 2013 1:47 pm

Johnny May? Brilliant attacker, real pace and not bad defensively. I think don't take ashton on tour this summer with england, give wade, may and biggs a shot beyond the premiership

· Reply · Report

matt March 30, 2013 9:20 pm

I hadn't thought of Johnny May, good call. I'm not overly keen to defend Ashton, because he is playing poorly at the moment, I just think the amount of stick he's getting is unfair given the lack of chances he's had, and the equally ineffective performances of the other back 3 players.

· Reply · Report

johndoe March 29, 2013 2:40 pm

There are plenty. I'd personally like to see Biggs there though. I think England would be better with someone unpredictable though, like Wade or Sharples. Matt Jess is a great runner too, and solid in defence. There are still some pretty average wingers in the Premiership who would contribute more to the English team.

Anyway, even if they aren't much better defensively (which I would disagree with), they can score. Ashton's defence is completely non-existant. He has no problem putting in a big hit on an unsuspecting opponent, but he doesn't like getting hit hard. Most players overcome that, Ashton hasn't.

· Reply · Report

dave March 30, 2013 12:50 am

what do you mean 18 caps without a try, because on the international level he scored against the all blacks and scotland which is 2 tries in 6 games, I dont know about anyone else here but I want them to bring marlon yarde to argentina and give him a chance i've heard some really good things about him

· Reply · Report

matt March 30, 2013 9:19 pm

Sorry mate, but Brown didn't score in either of those games, for the most part because he has never scored for England, sort of like I said...

· Reply · Report

Mark March 28, 2013 11:43 pm

How is that not malicious? Instinctive or not, that arm was going nowhere other than the neck or head area. Very poor decision not to punish him further.

· Reply · Report

bnations March 28, 2013 11:57 pm

Nasty. That was a high tackle all the way given that he jumped into the tackle -- weird technique. He got away with a mugging there.

· Reply · Report

Colombes March 29, 2013 12:05 am

High and intentional, but maybe not malicious
It just confirms that his defence and tackling are actually very poor

· Reply · Report

Hooligan March 29, 2013 5:04 pm Does anyone ever pick up a dictionary? How can that tackle be intentional but not malicious?

· · Reply · Report

Flying Dutchman March 30, 2013 4:32 pm

Intentional and malicious are not synonyms

· Reply · Report

DrG April 02, 2013 8:11 pm

True, but then he did say a dictionary, not a thesaurus...

If I did a tackle like this on purpose, I would personally would find it hard to explain that although it was on purpose I didn't mean to be nasty...

· Reply · Report

Facepalm March 29, 2013 12:10 am

Just finished watching Leeds vs Bradford and it's not hard to see where Ashton gets his technique from. Thug? No. He's not a bad person. When you compare this to some of the tackles in the Leeds vs Bradford game it was absolutely nothing. (That's not to say I don't think this was a stupid tackle)

· · Reply · Report

TechnoMouse March 29, 2013 12:48 am

Agreed, don't really see how Ashton is a "thug", he's come a long way since punching Manu Tuilagi (though in some ways, he's also taken a few steps back performance-wise!). I hope for the benefit of England (and himself) he finds his mojo again soon.

On a separate note, what a game that Leeds vs Bradford game was. Top notch.

· Reply · Report

browner March 29, 2013 12:55 am

My memory was he head-butted Tuilagi's fist !!

· Reply · Report

DanKnapp March 29, 2013 12:59 am

Didn't bitch about it when he got sent from the field though, so respect to him on that count.

· Reply · Report

johndoe March 29, 2013 3:54 am

Well you're not going to complain when ye could easily have got a red... Besides, who is there to bitch to?

· Reply · Report

TechnoMouse March 29, 2013 2:39 am

Haha yeah of course, got my Tigers vs Saints games mixed up. I'm thinking of the hair pull on Alesana Tuilagi! Long day.

· Reply · Report

Guy March 29, 2013 10:34 am

Are you referring to the incident where Ashton punched Manu in the fist with his face?

· · Reply · Report

Canadian content March 29, 2013 3:16 pm

Agreed, that could be his problem, he still instinctively tackles likes a league player and gets himself in trouble. I played gridiron first and learned to put my head across the body and occassionally recklessly throw myself into the tackle, cost me a few concussiOns. Hard to change from what u first learned. Great finish to that game ehh?

That said, I've always thought Ashton was more hype than anything. U guy are right he's always lived off others (youngs and lawes in his most famous try ever vs oz) and cannot create. Why not give may a chance?

· · Reply · Report

alid131 March 29, 2013 12:14 am

Ashton's tackling has been an issue for a while now. He is repeatedly lazy in his technique, meaning he either slips off or risks something nasty like this. Not malicious but careless.

· Reply · Report

Hamsandwhich March 29, 2013 12:20 am

Delon Armitage was cited for a very similar (possibly even less severe) tackle on Tom Biggs last season, so it will be interesting to see what happens

· Reply · Report

DanKnapp March 29, 2013 1:00 am

Ah, but with Armitage the IRB has ruled that you have to take him being a twat into consideration. He could be banned just for being a knob.

· · Reply · Report

TotesMcGoates March 29, 2013 2:54 am

I may have heard Aston being described as a twat or a knob by one or two people in the past...

· · Reply · Report

DanKnapp March 29, 2013 11:39 pm

Armitage comes across as a dirtier, nastier player - a proper cheap-shot merchant.

But I take your point.

· Reply · Report

matt March 29, 2013 12:24 am

I think the commentator got it right 'somewhere between a yellow and red'.

· · Reply · Report

cheyanqui March 29, 2013 12:51 am

If it were the other way around -- fill in the blank -- would it have been a straight red?

a polynesian on a ginger
a forward on a winger

· · Reply · Report

johndoe March 29, 2013 3:57 am

Quite possibly. Not really sure what your point is though... Rugby fans would be aware of the more relaxed rules on tackling in the Pacific Island countries and anyone with common sense could tell you that if there's a big size discrepancy, the hit will be harder and most probably, penalised more harshly.

· Reply · Report

cheyanqui March 29, 2013 9:24 pm

My point is that if this guy were playing for a Pacific Island nation, or for a Tier 2/3 country, the full force of the IRB would have come down upon him, and they use words like "reckless".

However, when it's a player from a favored nation, they talk of "bad luck", "no malicious intent", etc. etc.

It all comes down to refereeing / citiation / punishment by assumption -- when "good players" do it, it's unfortunate; when "bad players" do it, it's cynical.

· Reply · Report

Rob Rich March 29, 2013 1:16 am

This bloke should just go away and have a long think about if he should be on the field. He's not concentrating or thinking as I think he believes his own hype and thinks his sh*t doesn't stink

· Reply · Report

Andy Jensen March 29, 2013 8:59 am

Once again showing he is a liability to his team for club or country. If you check the play a few seconds earlier you see him go high on another player too. Shabby tackling technique.

· Reply · Report

stroudos March 29, 2013 9:06 am

Well my first reaction was "that didn't look too bad, hope we see a better view in a minute" - but I was watching his tackle at 0:11 (on Botica, I think?). They just disappear out of shot but clearly a head-high tackle there.

So yes, the actual featured tackle around 0:18 is bad, I would agree a yellow's probably suitable punishment. Then of course, we have the usual outrage because it's Chris Ashton.

I'm not so bothered by the poor tackling technique or perceived malice some see. I'm more concerned with why is he rushing up out of the defensive line and tackling the bloke inside his man? If you watch immediately after the tackle, there are even numbers of Quins and Saracens players. with the other Saracens defenders all in a flat line. Seems to me if Ashton had just joined that defensive line and remained flat, they'd have either snuffed out the attack or shepherded it into touch.

· Reply · Report

johndoe March 29, 2013 2:54 pm

He runs up because he likes to make the big hits. People associate that with a good defence but his defence is really an utter joke and he's afraid of getting run over too. He seems to have shrank his ego, but it's still not down to the right size yet.

He has all he needs to become a great player, he just needs to get his head out of his ass.

· Reply · Report

Guy March 29, 2013 10:09 am

By the end of the season Ashton will be able to decorate his entire house with bright yellow wallpaper if he continues like this.

· Reply · Report

Cian101 March 29, 2013 3:07 pm

Marland Yarde would be an excellent replacement for Ashton, great pace, finishing, size and very good defensively

· · Reply · Report

jadawin March 29, 2013 6:19 pm

a punch in the face. intentional and vicious...

· Reply · Report

Reality March 29, 2013 7:39 pm

"His hand seemed to connect with big Fa'asavalu and floored him" - is there a reason why the article doesn't just say that he high-tackled him? The video shows clearly that he tackled him, and tackled him high, so why not just call a spade a spade and say that he high-tackled him? If there was no video evidence or if there was some doubt, then fine,'s a clear as day.

· Reply · Report

cheyanqui March 29, 2013 9:26 pm

Your honor, I didn't shoot the man.

The deceased simply had an acute allergic reaction to the high speed lead projectile that I was playing with by myself, until he stepped into my path.

· · Reply · Report

Fatherb March 29, 2013 8:35 pm

Five yellow cards for a winger is ridiculous.

Ashton is a liability for his side and a malicious one at that.

· Reply · Report

Guest March 30, 2013 9:15 pm

Not quite sure how they can praise Ashton? Time and time again he fails to perform and yet he is picked. Would like to see wade start from England.

· Reply · Report

hrybrn123 April 01, 2013 5:47 pm

I think sharples is a more of a realistic want as a replacement to Ashton who should be out down and disposed of.

· Reply · Report

Dave March 30, 2013 9:24 pm

If he did that playing for Engerland that would of been a straight red card or been banned for 3 weeks, much more dangerous than what Bod did in the Italy v Ireland game. What did he say about tackling after the France game? That he "wants to hurt people". What a Dick, No respect for Ashton.

· Reply · Report

Cam March 31, 2013 10:31 pm

Having come from a rugby league background, you would have thought that Ashton would at least have good tackling technique, as they coach it to death there. However, he has absolutely no technique, and his aggression often gets the better of him in an attempt to make it appear as if he is helping and making a difference, but he is just proving the fact that he is a liability to teams, including England in the Six Nations. Not a team player. Should have been dropped from England a long time ago, and his tackling technique has not improved over the few years since this problem became evident. Sort it out Chris.

· Reply · Report

Michael April 03, 2013 2:25 pm

And what makes you such an authority on rugby?

· Reply · Report

kilbran April 08, 2013 1:36 am

most hated player in world rugby, I think so...

· Reply · Report

Commenting as Guest | Register or Login

All comments are moderated and will be removed immediately if offensive.